As part of our ongoing commitment to elevating the voices of youth with lived experience of homelessness, A Way Home Canada and the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness have partnered with Street Child United to send a team of Canadian youth to the 2018 Street Child World Cup in Moscow, Russia. This event will be held prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

There are 22 countries participating in the event and this will be the first year with an equal number of boys and girls teams (12 teams for each). The age range of young people participating is 13-17 years old. This will be Canada’s first time participating.

Here is a powerful video produced by Street Child United called “The Power of Football to Change Lives.” Street Child United also created a short video from the 2014 World Cup called “Here Come the Girls!” In this video, there is an amazing moment at the 2:50 mark when Indonesia scores its first goal of the tournament and both teams celebrate.

The Street Child World Cup is more than a football (AKA soccer) tournament. It also incorporates arts programming and an international youth congress. At the 2016 Street Child Games, youth designed their “Rio Resolution,” calling for their countries and communities to act and protect all street children’s rights. There are three main points to the Rio Resolution: protection from violence, right to education and the right to identity. In 2018, youth will design their “Moscow Manifesto.”

The Learning Community will support the selection of the players. A Way Home will support the logistics of getting the team to Moscow (fundraising, training and travel). In our first year participating, Canada will send a girls team, which will consist of nine players and three staff members.

Prior to arriving in Moscow in 2018, Team Canada participants will not only show off their soccer skills, but also participate in workshops on public speaking, community organizing, anti-oppression and team building. Our focus is ensuring that Team Canada is prepared for the congress component of the Street Child World Cup. We also want to make sure our players are prepared for returning home after the World Cup is over.

To prepare for the 2018 event, Street Child United hosted a summit in Moscow from June 19 to 23 for the team leaders of the countries participating in the 2018 World Cup. The primary focus of the summit was keeping the young people who will represent their countries at the centre of the World Cup and ensuring they are prepared to participate and for going home post event.

Street Child United shared a great summary of the Summit. “… Delegates shared insights into their work with the world’s most marginalised children, and took part in sessions on topics such as safeguarding and how to organise visas for more than 200 children who have never had a birth certificate or identity card who will travel to Russia next year.” (The Summit has given our movement real momentum.)

For us, it was a great experience to meet the team leaders from the other participating countries and learn from those who are returning for another event. Returning team leaders shared their experiences with the new leaders.

Team leaders working in small groups

Team leaders working in small groups

Jessica Hutting, who works at Kampus Diakoneia Modern Foundation (KDM) in Jakarta, Indonesia, shared that the girls on her team were surprised to learn that there were youth experiencing homelessness in countries like England and the U.S. Florence Soyekwo from RETRAK in Uganda highlighted that there was a need to address the economic disparity that exists between countries.

We are excited to be involved with this project and support the convening of Team Canada for the first Street Child World Cup. Stay tuned for updates as this initiative unfolds!